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Hue Jackson gives insight into Bills interview process; 'absolutely' would have kept Jim Schwartz

PHOENIX -- Hue Jackson knows not to get his hopes up for coaching jobs. Considered a commodity for many years, he has interviewed for several gigs that have gone to somebody else.

Even so, Jackson felt confident about his chances to become the Buffalo Bills' head coach.

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator thought he aced his interview with the Bills and fit the mold owners Terry and Kim Pegula and General Manager Doug Whaley put forth.

"They wanted to find someone to leave the defense in place because they were very good there and really help on the offensive side of the ball, help with the decision of the quarterback," Jackson said Wednesday at the Super Bowl media center.

"That's where I thought they were headed."

Then the Bills were bowled over by Rex Ryan's charm.

"I thought I was a pretty good fit," Jackson said. "I walked out of there feeling good that I had answered what they asked.

"They just felt Rex was the best fit for them, which I understand. I thought it was a fair process."

Jackson said Terry Pegula ran the interview, but Kim Pegula and Whaley were active participants in the Q&A.

"To have the Pegulas that involved is impressive," Jackson said. "It wasn't just the general manager. It was a collective decision on what's best for the organization, and that's the way it should be."

Jackson said he "absolutely" would have retained defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

"I think he's a tremendous coach," Jackson said. "That defense was as good as any in football."

Schwartz was cut loose after Ryan was hired. Schwartz would have been redundant under Ryan, who runs his own defense.

Jackson has a favorable opinion of Bills quarterback EJ Manuel and got the impression during the job interview that the team will stand by him.

"They will do everything they can to exhaust his opportunity there," Jackson said. "That's important."

Manuel went 2-2 with an 80.3 passer rating his season before Doug Marrone replaced him with Kyle Orton. Then Orton retired, leaving the Bills with Manuel and Jeff Tuel the lone quarterbacks on the team.

"He has a tremendous future ahead of himself," Jackson said of Manuel. "He started the season, in my opinion, pretty well. Some things didn't go well. They asked him to throw the ball more than he had earlier and things started to come loose for him and the offense.

"But at no time did I think he didn't have the talent to be an NFL quarterback."

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